QUEBEC CITY -- Whether or not major festivals are held next summer will depend on the progress of the vaccination campaign, authorities hinted on Thursday.

However, the representatives of the major events held throughout the summer want to be able to negotiate quickly with public health, as, after mid-April, it will be too late to set up a program.

They suggest that gatherings of 5,000 people should be allowed.

At a news conference Thursday in Montreal, Quebec director of public health Horacio Arruda said it was still premature to give the green light to the major cultural events of the summer.

"Think about it now, of course," he said, acknowledging that these big festivals are planned well in advance.

"The most crucial element will be the proportion of people vaccinated. It will depend on the epidemiology. Will we have a drop like last summer or will we be in another wave?"

He added, however, that he was going to do everything he could to allow people to enjoy the summer.


The Group of Major International Events (REMI) wants to be able to negotiate with the authorities.

According to the organization, it should be possible to plan festivities with a maximum capacity of 5,000 people, as in France, since promoters have the capacity to enforce standards, provide guidance, and supervision.

"If in France, we come to the conclusion that when distance is respected, when the wearing of masks is maintained, when the seats are distanced, it is feasible, will we come to the same answer here?" asked REMI CEO Martin Roy.

The countdown has started, however. The organizers are due to receive responses by mid-April.

"We understand that they have other things to do, but we can't wait until June to discuss what we can do in July," said Roy.

Roy is warning authorities against a possible cancellation of the festivals or overly severe measures, as it could open the door to clandestine gatherings.

"People are going to need an outlet and are going to have illegal parties," he said.

In the morning, Minister of Tourism Caroline Proulx, suggested that it is not yet the time to plan holidays based around festivals.

"The decision is not made. We are in conversation with public health to see if we could have festivals and events held during the summer," said Proulx.

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021.